ATLANTA — The majority of Americans reported they believe untreated mental illness significantly impacts the U.S. economy and that mental health reform is important, but only 5% feel Congress has prioritized mental health appropriately, according to data from a new national poll released today by the American Psychiatric Association.
“We applaud the lawmakers in Congress who recognize the dire need to improve our nation’s mental health system,” Renée Binder, MD, president of the APA, said in a press release. “But we call upon Congress as a whole to embrace this issue. Our poll findings show that the majority of Americans want to see improved mental health care and access.”
The online poll included a nationally representative sample of 1,025 interviews among adults aged 18 years and older in the United States. Interviews occurred in April 2016.
Approximately two-thirds of the cohort reported they felt untreated mental illness significantly and negatively impacted the U.S. economy.
More than 75% of respondents reported that mental health care reform was important to address societal issues such as suicide rates and access to care, but only 5% reported Congress made mental health a top priority.
Overall, 21% of the cohort reported they felt presidential candidate Hillary Clinton would “best ensure the needs of those living with mental health issues are met.” Nineteen percent endorsed candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., for this effort, and 10% endorsed Donald Trump.
Approximately 45% of the cohort reported there was less stigma regarding mental illness than 10 years ago, but 31% reported they would not vote for a political candidate with a diagnosed mental illness, even if they received treatment for it.
Fifteen percent of respondents reported the current mental health care system is meeting mental health needs of military veterans.
Eighty percent of respondents reported that mental health affects physical health.
Approximately 20% of the cohort reported seeking mental health care and 29% reported having a relative who has sought care.
Approximately 50% of respondents reported they were unsure of or did not know how to access mental health care.
“The fact that a vast majority of Americans — 80% — agree that someone’s mental health has an impact on their physical health just shows the need for us to improve the nation’s mental health system,” Saul Levin, MD, MPA, CEO and medical director of the APA, said in the release. “It also illustrates the importance of collaborative care between psychiatry and other medical specialties.” – by Amanda Oldt
American Psychiatric Association. APA mental health care survey. Presented at: American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting; May 14-18, 2016; Atlanta.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.